The Province of Ontario announced $10 million in support for seniors across the province during the COVID-19 pandemic, and is asking those over the age of 70 to stay home.
On Monday, the Premier Doug Ford said they are working with businesses, volunteer organizations and non-profits to make it easier for Ontario’s seniors to self-isolate and practice physical distancing.
The new investment will help community organizations with the coordination of subsidized deliveries of meals, medicines, and other necessities to seniors.
Ford said they are also working with grocers and pharmacists to prioritize seniors’ delivery orders and establish senior-only shopping hours.
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The investment doubles the government’s initial commitment to Ontario’s Action Plan: Responding to COVID-19.
This $10 million program for seniors living at home is in addition to the $20 million over two years the province has invested to protect seniors in retirement homes through increased infection control and active screening procedures.
There is also an additional $243 million for long-term care homes to support 24/7 screening, additional staffing, enhanced cleaning and sanitation, and additional surge capacity.
Ford also mentioned the province’s emergency order to prohibit non-essential visitors in these vulnerable spaces.
“We need an iron ring around our seniors. We want to ensure they get the right level of care during these uncertain times,” Ford said.
The premier also asked for residents to call any seniors they may know to help them during times of self-isolation which can be “especially hard” for them.
Ford said that stricter enforcement will be put in place if people do not adhere to physical distancing measures.
Over the weekend, with the warmer weather, Ford said large groups of people were seen together socializing.
“The streets were packed and that’s unacceptable. Every person needs to take a hard look at their habits,” he said. “We’re prepared to take further action if we do not see a stop to this behaviour.”
Ford said he would wait for advice from the medical team and would consult with the federal government if he were to look at a mandatory stay-at-home order.
The premier assured that Ontario’s story can be different than the cases seen in Italy or Spain, but in order for this to happen individuals must take the advice seriously, otherwise it can affect the vulnerable, like the province’s senior population.
“We must protect our senior populations. If you’re over the age of 70 or have an underlining condition stay home and isolate.”
Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr. David Williams echoed the premier’s sentiments.
“Given the greater risk of severe outcomes to Ontarians who are elderly, I am also strongly recommending that individuals over 70 years of age self-isolate,” Williams said in a statement.
“This means only leaving home or seeing other people for essential reasons. Where possible, you should seek services over the phone or internet or ask for help from friends, family or neighbours with essential errands. This also applies to individuals who have compromised immune systems and/or underlying medical conditions.”
On March 30, the Province confirmed 351 new known cases of coronavirus, bringing the province’s total up to 1,706.
A total of 23 people have died from the virus in the province, with 431 patients recovered.